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Saudi, UAE presence at Istanbul defense show signals tightening industry ties with Turkey – Breaking Defense


Global, Land Warfare

Saudi, UAE presence at Istanbul defense show signals tightening industry ties with Turkey – Breaking Defense

Saudi Arabian Military Industries Hazem combat management system on display at IDEF 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Agnes Helou / Breaking Defense)

ISTANBUL — For the first time this year the major Saudi defense firm SAMI is showing off its wares at an international arms show in Istanbul, the latest evidence of tightening defense industry ties between Turkey and Gulf nations in the wake of a friendly visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the region.

The SAMI booth is part of the larger Saudi Arabian pavilion here, one of the largest international pieces of real estate at the show. The kingdom’s General Authority of Military Industries (GAMI), the upcoming World Defense Show and Intra technologies also took part in the defense exhibition in Istanbul. Firms from United Arab Emirates, which has been a regular at the show, announced new capabilities often withheld for its own defense expos, suggesting Abu Dhabi is also eyeing a potential customer base in Ankara.

RELATED: Turkey, Saudi Arabia ink deal for Baykar Akinci drones as Erdogan swings through Gulf

The Saudi Arabia Pavilion at IDEF 2023 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Agnes Helou / Breaking Defense)

“The Turkish president’s trip to [Saudi Arabia] and the UAE sets the stage for the coming years for the SAMI, GAMI, and UAE defense entities collaboration with Ankara. Their efforts are dedicated bilaterally and/or tailored made for specific requirements,” Theodore Karasik, a senior adviser at the U.S.-based geopolitical consultancy Gulf State Analytics, told Breaking Defense.

Turkey will participate for the first time in Saudi-based defense exhibition World Defense show, with 29 exhibiting firms according to a statement by Mansour Al-Babtain, WDS chief KSA liaison officer.

At IDEF in Istanbul, SAMI showcased the first Saudi-made Hazem combat management system that is integrated on board of the Saudi Avante 2200-class corvettes.

RELATED: Manned and unmanned land vehicles dominate IDEF 2023 floor in Istanbul

Also here, the UAE firm Calidus, in partnership with the nation’s Tawazun Council, unveiled a mobile missile launcher. Alheda, the Calidus-made vehicle hosting the missile launcher, is a lightweight wheeled launcher with the capability to fire four Alheda missiles and eight logir missiles. It has a remote firing mode and is expected to enter the testing phase in three months.

The UAE’s MCAV0014 Alheda missile launcher unveiled at IDEF 2023. (Agnes Helou / Breaking Defense)

“UAE’s Calidus displayed an armored vehicle fitted with ground-to-ground and ground-to-air missiles — that tells us much about the Turkish-UAE relationship just as much as Saudi entities diving into drones and cryptography: They are growing in unique ways with new regional security equipment that flexes muscle, in theory,” Karasik commented.

On the third day of IDEF, UAE’s Black Cobra Military Supplies company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Turkish company OSTIM to find opportunities for growth, mainly in the research and development field, as well as in technology cooperation between the two sides.

With the newfound close ties between the Gulf nations and Turkey will come some competition, especially now that a rift between Saudi Arabian and Emirate leadership has reportedly emerged.

“The real question will be about business competition between the three states to fill certain niches in KSA and UAE defense requirements,” Karasik told Breaking Defense. He added that the actual use of such systems based on their incorporation into the order of battle remains to be seen, as well as where, exactly, the capabilities could be used.

“Already all three countries are getting more involved in African affairs, so perhaps there will be contracts that involve security requirements perhaps a little further in the future. It should be noted that sovereign wealth funds from both Saudi and UAE are involved in these defense arenas, which makes Turkish collaboration and investment in Ankara a much more serious venture,” Karasik said.

With Vision 2030 in the KSA and UAE emphasizing localization of defense production, both Gulf countries are looking for technology transfer and joint ventures with companies to boost their expertise and technology in the sector. Turkish firms will have to match with this endeavor, and some have already shown readiness for this.

Ozgur Guleryuz, a senior official at Turkey’s STM defense firm, told Breaking Defense his company, for one, has already expressed the company’s readiness to cooperate with Gulf countries, and assured that STM is ready to transfer its technology to these countries in line with their local requirements.



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